Only children face employment discrimination

By Guo Qiang (
Updated: 2006-11-30 16:06

China's decades-old one-child policy helped reduce the population of the world's most populous country by an official 30 million, but has also brought about discrimination against only children when they hunt for work on the cutthroat employment market.

When Chen Fengxin, a hydro-electricity major, handed in his resume to potential employers at a job fair for students majoring in hydro-electricity in the central province of Henan, he was stunned by the questions he received from recruitment personnel, reported the Dong Fang Jin Bao on November 27.

"Are you from a village? Do you have any sisters or brothers?"

A female employee from the Sinohydro Engineering Bureau No.1 said her company favors non-only children because of several years of experience.

"Students from cities and only children cannot endure the hardships incurred in the process of geological exploitation. Brain drain is rife," she told the paper, adding that parents of only children hope their offspring can stay close to them and not work too far away.

China initiated the controversial family planning policy during its reform and opening up at the end of 1979. The move drew international criticism with critics slamming the government for perceived human rights violations.

Social problems have also resulted from the policy such as an alarming labor shortage and gender imbalance.

Workers from the Investigation Design Institute of Water Conservation and Electric Power in Cangzhou city, North China's Hebei Province, echoed their counterparts in their recruitment criterion.

"Experience proves that lots of only children are prone to be effeminate and overconfident," an anonymous worker at the fair told the paper.

"Sixty per cent of staff who are only children will hop from job to job. My company attaches more importance to strong will and vitality to conquer hardships," said the worker.

A graduate from the Taiyuan University of Technology Liu Suqing expressed her indignation towards the controversial policy.

"As only children, we are discriminated against by potential employers," said Liu.

Several companies at the fair turned Liu down because she is from an only child family.

Expert views may strike a blow to only children in China.

"Preferring to choose employees based on whether or not they are only children cannot be labeled as a discriminatory policy. It's a natural consequence of being only children," said Zhang Mingsuo, professor at the Zhengzhou University Research Center for Sociological Methods and Applications. "A growing number of only children are used to changing jobs when faced with hardship and fail to adapt to the surrounding environment."

Zhang said the phenomenon has a popular nickname, the 'only-child syndrome'.

"Rome was not built in a day," Su Xijun, a director at the employment department of the North China University of Water Conservation and Electric Power in Zhengzhou, Henan Province said, expressing his understanding of the controversial move.

The one-child policy has led parents to dote on their children, cultivating little princes and princesses across the nation.

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